Monday, September 24, 2012

Palmetto Espresso Porter

My best friend of 20 years recently got married in South Carolina.  I was lucky enough to be a part of the wedding party and this trip enabled me to make a trip to the well renowned Charleston Beer Exchange.  My time was extremely limited, so I communicated with Brandon from CBX via email in the days prior to my arrival so that my trip could be well organized.  They did not disappoint.  Upon my arrival at CBX the guys there had a box of about 12 beers ready for me to pick up.  I was interested in mostly local beers and was hooked up with beers from Palmetto, Westbrook, Coast, and Thomas Creek among others.  The Charleston Beer Exchange is probably one of the best bottle shops I have ever been to.  Shelves on top of shelves on top of shelves of beer.  The store itself is quite small, but it's absolutely loaded with what I can definitively say was the best selection of beers I have ever laid eyes on.  If you are ever in South Carolina, the Charleston Beer Exchange is an absolute must.  Cheers to the guys there for making my short experience an incredibly memorable one.  They also ship and I won't hesitate to use this service in the future because of the awesome customer service I received.

On to the beer.  I was fortunate to try the Palmetto Pale Ale at the wedding reception.  The bartender wasn't supposed to provide this beer, but after conversation about how Amstel Light wasn't cutting it for me, he conceded and hooked me up.  It was a fantastic pale ale.  So that made me even more excited to try one of the two bottles from Palmetto the guys at CBX provided.  This is the Palmetto Espresso Porter.

Choose Your Vessel:  The 16oz New Belgium Globe.  I like porters in globes.  

The Pour:  12oz bottle pours a deep brown.  At first glance it appears black in color, but hold it to a light and it's quite clear that this one is dark brown.  Thin tan head that vanishes quite quickly.   Minimal lacing, almost none at all.
Aroma:  Massive coffee roast is all I have on the nose here.  Smells quite rich of coffee.  Not much else to say.  Pretty straightforward here.  My notes indicate that the aroma got stronger as the beer warmed a bit.
Taste:  As I expected, this one had an awesome rich coffee flavor throughout the drinking experience.  Some slight roasted chocolate, caramel, molasses, a touch of vanilla, and maybe even a little hazelnut at times.  The coffee is predominant and lingers throughout the finish.  If hops are present, I can't tell, but that may be due to this little head cold I have.  Beer has a thin mouthfeel and an almost creamy texture with lively carbonation.  Typically I don't like lively carbonated porters, but the carbonation in this one actually seems to make the coffee flavors pop a bit more, which is quite enjoyable.  

Overall:  Pretty solid offering from the folks at Palmetto.  I love the coffee flavor that dominated the palate, but was balanced by a variety of subtle flavors throughout.  The lingering coffee finish made me want that next sip even more than the last.  I'd like it to be a little more full bodied.  Was quite thin for a porter, but that's just a personal preference.  Really looking forward to trying their Amber.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's a Glorious Time of Year

While I have previously written about my desire for seasonal beers to be available at all times, it is officially Stout Season and Fall beer season.  This is the time of year when an abundance of stouts, pumpkin beers, and octoberfest style beers are hitting stores and tap rooms near you.

Generally Octoberfest/Oktoberfest and Pumpkin beers start hitting stores in August and September.  Oktoberfest is a 16 day long festival that is held yearly in Germany.  This is a rich tradition and has been happening over there since the early 1800's.  The Oktoberfest style of beer has a rich malt profile with flavors usually in the caramel and toffee profiles.  The color is usually a deep amber.  These brews are fairly sweet and incredibly drinkable.  Good examples of Oktoberfest styles include:

Ayinger Oktoberfest-Marzen:  Probably my favorite and most true to style.
Three Floyds Munsterfest:  Only available in September.  Worth making the trip to Munster for this one.
Sam Adams Octoberfest:  This is a solid Octoberfest.  Probably my favorite seasonal that Sam Adams makes.  It's a good baseline american octoberfest.

Pumpkin beers are becoming increasingly popular.  I have found that pumpkin beers can be quite varied from beer to beer.  Typically you will find an array of pumpkin pie seasonings including nutmeg, clove, allspice, cinnamon, ginger, and pumpkin of course.  Some brewers also seem to be able to harness an almost graham cracker flavor in their pumpkin brews.  The variety of spices that can be used gives these brews a unique character.  They can be hearty, sweet, and savory all in one great beer.  Good examples of the style include:

Southern Tier Pumking:  My favorite of the pumpkin beers.  This brew features nutmeg and that graham cracker character I referenced earlier.  It's possesses a great pumpkin pie-like flavor.  Unmatched in my opinion.
Schlafly Pumpkin:  This one has a gorgeous color and the clove spice really comes through heavily.  Some people love this one.  Wasn't for me, but might be for you.
Shipyard Pumpkinhead:   This one gets a bad reputation for some reason, but many people swear by it.
Dogfish Head Punkin: Lots of pumpkin and brown sugar.  Leave it Dogfish Head to create an awesome version.

Stout season.  It's a glorious beer time of year.  Without a doubt.  One of my favorite stouts, Founders Breakfast Stout, began it's distribution a few weeks ago.  This beer has massive coffee and chocolate aromas and flavors.  It's a little lighter on the palate than you would expect from a stout, but I find it to generally be a nearly perfect breakfast beer.  If you live anywhere in the Founders distribution area, Breakfast Stout is fairly easy to find and the release continues for several months.  Grab some if you haven't tried it, even if you aren't a fan of stouts or are just a little too afraid to try them.  This one can change your mind and open your eyes to the beauty of stouts.

Another seasonal stout that is making its way to stores is Goose Island Bourbon County Stout.  This enormous beer boasts strong flavors of molasses, chocolate, caramel, oak, and bourbon.  One of the best barrel aged beers around and it is not for the beginning stout drinker....unless you love bourbon, then go for it.  This beer warms as it goes down and will knock your socks off if you aren't careful with it.  Definitely a sipping beer.  I think the first time I had this beer it took me about 45 minutes to finish it.  Take your time.  The flavor profile only gets better as the beer warms up.  This one can be tricky to find.  Make sure you go to your local shop and ask to be put on a list for this one.  It does get distributed to stores, but rarely is ever seen on a shelf.  Typically beer stores will hold it "in the back" for regular customers to buy.  Even more difficult to find is the Coffee version made with Intelligentsia Coffee.

So get on board with the arrival of fall beers and stouts.  Give something new a try.  Visit your local craft brewery and discover what's brewing in your very own backyard!  What are some of your favorite stouts and fall beers?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Taylor's Pub Indy

Sitting here at the bar at Taylor's Pub. Admittedly I have never been here before. The biggest hurdle previously had been that the establishment was a smoking venue until the new law passed in June banning smoking in bars. I have always seen Taylor's since it is literally right down the street from my daytime employer and conveniently on the way home from my nighttime employer. But I just have never stopped in. That is until I found out via their twitter feed that Sun King's Grapefruit Jungle IPA would be on tap this week.

I was pretty disappointed that Sun King wasn't canning GFJ this time around. Being a father of two makes it difficult for me to get out to bars for draft releases. But this one is special and Taylor's is super convenient. So I made it happen. GFJ is incredibly citrusy and magnificently bitter with a crispness to it that equals refreshment and makes you crave that next sip. Trust me, I am on my second one already.

Taylor's itself is quaint and cozy. You can tell that there are regular patrons here, of which I am not, but could be someday. There is an outdoor patio for those smokers. Multiple tables. Only 8 draft beer lines and about 20 different bottle selections. The only bottles I see of note are Three Floyd's Pride and Joy and Sun King cans of cream ale and wee Mac. On tap today are a couple beers from Sun King, Fountain Square, and some macro brews including the typical stuff you would find most places. Guinness, Bud Light, Stella, and Sam Adams Octoberfest. Good to see that 50% of the draft selection is local.

The staff here are super friendly and nice. The smell of cigarette smoke is virtually a thing of the past. This could easily become my spot for an after work beer. Certainly this will hinge on whether I have time and if they keep bringing in local craft beers. Certainly seems like there could be space to add draft lines to get some Flat 12 and/or Triton beers in here.

Cheers to Taylor's Pub and cheers to Sun King for making and serving awesome local brews. My only problem was that they served it in a Colts glass. Ick!!